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Odds are the stakes were never much higher than this when many of the players dotting the rosters for the second annual Basketball Tournament were doing so for some of the top-flight college programs in the country.

The single-elimination, $1 million, winner-take-all tourney kicked off across the country earlier this month, with the title game slated to be broadcast on ESPN on Saturday, August 2. In all, 97 teams were scheduled to compete in the multi-state showdown with Super 17 regional play going down in Chicago July 23-25. The semifinals and Championship Game are planned for New York City over a two-day period beginning Friday, August 1.

Thursday night, tickets in Chicago are currently clocking in with a price of $20 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and younger at McGrath-Phillips Arena on DePaul’s campus. Comparatively, DePaul’s men’s college basketball tickets on the secondary market averaged $35 for the 2014-15 home campaign.

Back for more and to defend their 2014 title are the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni. Core 2014 contributors Rob Kurz, Ryan Ayers and Ty Nash are joined this year by frontline bruisers Ben Hansbrough, Luke Harangody and Tim Abromaitis. The key to the Irish’s repeat hopes could hinge on how well point guard Chris Thomas’ replacement, Ben Atkins, comes to mesh with all the team’s mainstays.

Simply making it to Chicago for regional play almost assures The Fighting Alumni of having home-court advantage against anyone they might face, given the school’s passionate fan base in that neck of the woods.

In walking with the title last year and the $500,000 prize that came with it, the team of alumnus stayed true to their Notre Dame roots, seamlessly sharing the ball every game and executing their ball-moving offense almost to perfection in their 72-68 championship game upset of Team Barstool. In the five games they played, the Irish had a different top scorer in each contest and shot a blistering 46 percent overall from behind the arc.

This time around, some of ND’s stiffest competition figures to come from Boeheim’s Army, a team of former Syracuse players including Demetris Nichols, Lawrence Moten, Eric Devendorf and Terrence Roberts.

The Syracuse squad secured its trip to Chicago by knocking off 20th & Olney, 92-91, in overtime of third-round play in Philadelphia. The sharpshooting Nichols led the way with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including a trio of three pointers.